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PRESS RELEASE of 14 March 2024


On Saturday 16 March, in the Paul VI Hall, meeting with over 3000 employees of the Hospital’s six sites, together with patients and families

A festive date for the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital: over 3000 doctors, nurses, researchers, technical and administrative staff, volunteers, patients and their families will meet Pope Francis in the Paul VI Hall on Saturday 16 March. The occasion of the audience is the 100th anniversary of the donation of the Hospital to the Holy See by the Salviati family who founded it in 1869. Since that day (20 February 1924) the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital, the first Italian hospital completely dedicated to children, has become “the Pope's Hospital” for everyone.

The Salviati family’s gift 100 years ago has borne abundant fruits, and the little hospital on the Janiculum Hill is now one of Europe’s largest academic research and paediatric care centres. A reference point for families not only in Rome and in the Latium region, but also throughout Italy and the world, it is located across six sites, offering 627 beds and managing around 95,000 emergency room admissions, 30,000 admissions, more than 32,000 surgical and interventional procedures, and 2,500,000 outpatient services every year.

The Holy See hospital covers all the medical and surgical specialties in the paediatric field. The most innovative areas of care include transplantology, genetic and metabolic diseases, medical and surgical cardiology, neurosciences, oncohaematology and rehabilitation. Alongside medical care, it carries out extensive research activity, which is mainly concentrated in the large laboratories at the Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls site and to which almost 2000 researchers are dedicated. Every year the Hospital carries out about a thousand research projects and clinical studies and produces over 1300 scientific publications.



On Saturday, the best gift for Pope Francis will certainly be seeing the smile of over 200 children, currently being treated at the Bambino Gesù Hospital, accompanied by their parents, who will be in the first rows of the Paul VI Hall. Among them are also children from the “peripheries of the world” where they would have no possibility of treatment or care, and especially from war situations that have wounded them and deprived them of home and affection, Ukraine and Gaza in particular. More than 300 patients are received every year on a humanitarian basis by the Hospital, which is also involved in international cooperation projects in 18 countries for the training of health personnel and the provision of highly specialized interventions.

The participants in the audience will meet in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall where, from 8.30, volunteers from various associations collaborating with Bambino Gesù Hospital will entertain the children. The pontiff is expected to arrive at 9.30. A group of 50 children will greet him by unrolling a scroll with the slogan “Lives that help life”, which will accompany the various initiatives characterizing 2024 as the “year of the gift”. After his intervention, Pope Francis will greet the president of Bambino Gesù Hospital, Tiziano Onesti, Duchess Maria Grazia Salviati, heiress of the family that founded the Hospital, and the young patients with their families.

Finally, a representation of patients will offer the pontiff a basket containing some thoughts written for him by children and young people hospitalized in the various Bambino Gesù sites in the weeks leading up to the audience.

“We heartily thank Pope Francis for this new opportunity to meet”, says President Onesti, “because by welcoming us for this occasion, he once again testifies his closeness and affection for ‘our’ hospital and confirms us in our commitment”. In this regard, Onesti continues: “My thoughts and thanks go to the doctors, nurses and all the healthcare staff who will not be able to attend the audience because they are engaged in the hospital service that can never stop”.

Advancing research, curing disease, overcoming the loneliness of families”: this, for the president of the Bambino Gesù is “the purpose of our work; this is the privilege that is granted to us because by curing children and young people from all over the world we are taking care of our future”.

The audience will be broadcast live by Vatican Media and filmed by the Bambino Gesù social channels.


Journalists and media workers who wish to participate must apply, up to 24 hours before the event, via the Holy See Press Office online accreditation system, at press.vatican.va/accreditamenti.